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Towards sustainable choices: navigating the EU’s green transition strategies
Sustainability is a crucial asset for modern businesses, with 56% of European consumers being influenced by environmental factors to varying degrees when purchasing goods and services. However, despite the emphasis on ecological considerations, misleading advertising remains a persistent concern for European consumers. This deceptive practice, known as greenwashing, involves organisations creating a false impression of ecological responsibility, often by using brand names or unsubstantiated environmental claims. Several fashion brands, including H&M, Nike, Boohoo, ASOS and Asda, have found themselves under the greenwashing radar in recent years. The increasing number of such cases indicate a pressing requirement for more straightforward guidelines for businesses and the legal system.
On 19 September 2023, the Council and the Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on the proposal for a directive to empower consumers for a green transition. While the detailed content of this agreement is not yet available, it is anticipated the directive will enable the EU consumers to:
Additionally, the directive will introduce a harmonised label displaying information about producers’ commercial durability guarantee.
The Council affirms that this compromise agreement seamlessly aligns with the core objectives outlined in the Commission’s initial proposal of 30 March 2022. The proposal demonstrates a pivotal effort to bolster consumers’ rights by amending the unfair commercial practices directives (2005/29/CE) and the consumer rights directive (2011/83/EU), tailoring them to propel the green transition.
Rooted in the vision of a circular, clean, and sustainable European economy, these objectives empower consumers to make ecologically informed choices. This agreement signifies a significant stride toward cultivating a marketplace in which environmental awareness guides consumer decisions, marking a crucial advancement in pursuing an eco-conscious society.
Next steps: green consumer empowerment ahead
The Parliament and the Council must formally endorse and adopt the provisional agreement to complete the legislative process. The Parliament is anticipated to take a decision during a plenary session in November 2023. Subsequently, member states will have a two year period to transpose the directive into their national laws.
The interconnected initiatives driving sustainability
It is crucial to emphasise that this directive is not an isolated effort but is embedded within a broader framework of European initiatives. The proposal constitutes one of the initiatives outlined in the Commission’s 2020 New Consumer Agenda and 2020 Circular Economy Action Plan, building upon the principles of the European Green Deal. It operates within a comprehensive package of four proposals, complemented by the eco-design regulation and the directive proposals addressing green claims and the right to repair. These initiatives represent a cohesive strategy to foster a sustainable, circular, and environmentally conscious European economy.
European Commission, Key consumer data: The European Commission is providing new information to assess consumers’ needs in the Single Market and their response to multiple crises, 27 March 2023.
Council of the EU, Council and Parliament reach a provisional agreement to empower consumers for the green transition, Press release, 19 September 2023.
Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005, concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’) (Text with EEA relevance).
Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011, on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council Text with EEA relevance.